Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Beck - Mongolian Chop Squad I|
Actors: Taliesin Jaffe, Jamie McGonnigal, Greg Ayres, Christopher Sabat, Eric Vale
Director: Osamu Kobayashi
Genres: Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts, Anime & Manga, Animation
Music is Life? Beck begins the compelling story of a boy who discovers who he is through music. A teenage boy meets an amazing guitar player and together they form the band Beck. Follow the bands ever-challenging road to ... more »
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An adolescent heeds the call of music in gentle animated dra
Brian Camp | Bronx, NY | 08/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Beck Mongolian Chop Squad" is a Japanese animated TV series that tells the story of 14-year-old Koyuki and what happens in the course of his life as he meets a new group of friends and mentors, all of whom are involved in music to varying degrees, and how it affects his musical tastes and his own budding talents. It's done in a straightforward, expressive animation style showing the streets, clubs, back alleys, fast food joints and everyday spaces of Tokyo and the average people who inhabit them. Judging from the five episodes in this volume, it all unfolds in a leisurely, slice-of-life manner as Koyuki interacts with friends from school, including a girl he likes, and meets an older boy, Ryusuke, a long-haired musician who grew up in America, and his cute younger sister, Maho, a singer who's Koyuki's age and who encourages him to sing. These are interesting, likable characters and we enjoy spending time with them and hearing the music they make and listen to.
On the Japanese track, Ryusuke and Maho both speak in a mix of English and Japanese, as does their grandmother, and Maho has girlfriends who also lived in America and do the same. Maho curses frequently in English. They're played by voice actors who are Japanese but sound comfortable enough with English and its American idiom to suggest that they may have spent some time in America as well. This may be the first anime series I've seen that uses English in this way, as a part of the Japanese characters' everyday discourse. At one point, poor monolingual Koyuki feels left out and mutters, "They don't teach English properly in Japan, is what I feel." This aspect of the show is almost as fascinating as the music.
The music is mostly rock, with one invented J-pop star, Chiemi Kuniyoshi, posited as Koyuki's favorite. (I actually liked her stuff the best.) A lot of different types of songs, mostly in English, were created for the show, including the rousing theme song, "Hit in the U.S.A." The music is worked into the fabric of the kids' lives in a consistently creative and believable way and we follow Koyuki as he grows more comfortable expressing himself musically.
There's audio commentary accompanying Episode 3 in which the two directors of the English dub track explain the strategy they employed to handle the issues raised by the mix of English and Japanese in the original dialogue and how they changed language differences to "cultural differences." I'm not convinced. The bilingual dialogue in the original is essential to the dramatic integrity of the show and to remove it kind of defeats the whole purpose. Better not to have an English dub at all. It wouldn't be the first successful series released in the U.S. to not have an English dub. (That would probably be "Kimagure Orange Road," directed, coincidentally, by "Beck"'s director, Osamu Kobayashi.)